Bill Introduced to Raise Bar for Independent Contractor Classification

May 11, 2018

In a preview of a pro-labor agenda for a future Democratic administration, Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and 10 other Democratic members of Congress introduced a bill that, among other things, would severely limit independent contractor classifications along the lines as a recent controversial decision by the California Supreme Court.

The so-called ABC test presumes workers are employees instead of independent contractors, a move that would have significant implications for the gig economy and employers generally.  

Other provisions of the bill include: 

  • Allowing unions to organize through a majority sign up process (i.e., card check);  
  • Preempting all state and local right-to-work laws; 
  • Imposing limits on the use of legal advisors during union representation campaigns; and  
  • Expanding “joint employer” liability under the labor laws.  

The bill has little chance—for the moment: Republican control of the White House and both chambers of Congress means that the bill does not have legs in this congressional session. So why introduce it? 

The measure has a two-fold purpose: First, to lay the groundwork for advancing the policies it proposes in the House should Democrats take control of that body—a distinct possibility leading up to the 2018 midterms.  Second, to draw the policy lines of battle now in advance of the 2018 midterm elections and the 2020 presidential election.